COVID-19’s Impact on South Alabama’s Winter and Spring Sports

By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor

The sports world has been impacted drastically by the effects of COVID-19, aka the Coronavirus. March is usually a time for some of sports’ most anticipated events like the start of baseball season and the NCAA Men’s and Women’s National Basketball Tournament. Just when the world of college sports was getting to be busy, the impact of the coronavirus continued to spread at a horrific rate.

When the college basketball conference tournaments started to cancel due to the growing pandemic, the NCAA had to make a judgment call. On March 12th, the NCAA decided to cancel all regular season and post-season sporting events for the winter and spring sports of the 2019-2020 season. While it may not come as a surprise to teams, players, coaches, and fans, it leaves a huge hole for that will not be filled.

The NCAA March Madness is always one of the biggest sporting events in America as it brings in billions of dollars from revenue and from betting. Both the South Alabama Jaguars men’s and women’s teams were set to participate in the semi-finals of the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament. Both the men and women were two wins away from winning the conference tournament title and clinch a spot in the 2020 Division I Basketball National Championship Tournament.

The men came into the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament as the number two seed after finishing the season with a 20-11 record including an eight-game win streak. They were set to take on the third-seeded Texas State Bobcats on March 14th, two days before the Sun Belt Conference canceled the tournament.

The women came into the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament as the sixth-seeded team after finishing the regular season with a 16-16 record. The Jags were set to take on the second-seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers also on March 14th.

The canceling of the spring sporting events also caused the Jaguars’ baseball and softball season to end even though their respective seasons barely started. The baseball team was 8-10 before starting their Sun Belt Conference play at the Georgia State Panthers in a three-game series on March 13th, 14th, and 15th. The baseball team was picked to win the Sun Belt Conference during the preseason. South Alabama’s softball team had accumulated an 8-17 record but was gathering an impression Sun Belt Conference record of 2-1.

Both the men and women were on their long schedule season with the men participating in seven of their twelve season tournament events and the women participating in six of their ten season tournament events. The men Jaguars were set to participate in the Linger Longer Invitational in Eatonville, Georgia on Friday, March 20th to Sunday, March 22nd. The women Jaguars were set to participate in Bama Beach Bash in Gulf Shores, Alabama on Friday, March 20th to Sunday, March 22nd.

The South Alabama Jaguars track and field team had participated in six of their 17 events of the spring season. They were getting ready to host the South Alabama Invitational for a two-day series on Friday, March 20th and Saturday, March 21st.

The Jaguars men’s tennis team had accumulated a 5-6 record in the 11 events they have played before the NCAA made their ruling. They encountered on a three-game win streak that included impressive wins against Xavier University of Louisiana, UAB, and Florida A&M. They were set to take on the South Florida Bulls in Tampa Bay, Florida on March 13th. The Jaguars women’s tennis had accumulated a 6-6 record in the 12 events they have played. They did encounter a 5-1 record at home. Their next event was the start of their Sun Belt Conference play on March 14th against the Texas State Bobcats.